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September 21, 2013

Epps grows by leaps and bounds

At his current rate of growth Tioga's Aaron Epps is not opposed to joining the 7-foot club.

"That would be nice," Epps said with a hearty laugh.

Consider the last three years since Epps entered Tioga as a 6-foot-5 freshman swingman the three-star forward/center has grown an additional four inches since then, including two more over the summer to reach his current height of 6-9 and 195 pounds.

Because of his growth on the floor and further development of his game over the summer Epps finds himself the object of several team's desire - including LSU where the honorable mention Class 4A All-Stater is taking an official visit this weekend for the Auburn football game along with his mother.

"I'm looking for the bond I can make with the players and the rest of the coaching staff," Epps said. "We'll tour the academic part of the school and then go to the big game."

Epps, who has received 25 scholarship offers, has narrowed the scope of his recruiting process to five schools with an eye on the NCAA's early signing period in November.

Louisiana Tech received his first official visit while LSU is hosting Epps this weekend. He has scheduled trips set in October for Oklahoma State (17th) and Mississippi State (24th) with a fifth visit possibly going to Memphis.

"I can't really say which one's my overall favorite until I visit them all," Epps said.

With the emergence of Epps over the last three years Tioga has also witnessed a progression in its program from a seven-win team three years ago to a squad that went 25-8 and lost to eventual state champion St. Thomas More in the state regionals.

Epps was voted to first team All-District 4-3A and second team All-Cenla after averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks.

"I feel like I've gotten much better," Epps said. "I'm comfortable with scoring outside the paint. I've gotten better as a shooter."

Not only did Epps, 6-7 as a junior, hit another growth spurt over the summer and reach his current height but he took his game to another level on the AAU circuit with the Jackson Tigers.

While his statistics appeared pedestrian compared to high school Epps averaged 5-6 points against an increased level of competition in tournaments across the country.

Once the Tigers reached the prestigious EYBL Peach Jam at the end of the summer Epps improved those numbers to 9.4 points with a high of 19 in a victory over Virginia-based Boo Williams - the only game his team won in five tries.

"At the end of my eighth grade year I started getting bigger and I thought I'd keep on growing and I'd have a shot to make it to the next level," Epps said. "I just kept on working."

Growing up in central Louisiana, Epps said he first identified with LSU football because of his participation in the sport as a wide receiver until the seventh grade.

Epps said he's developed a familiarity with LSU over the last several years, including an unofficial visit this summer and taking part in the Tigers team camp.

While Epps, who realizes that his weight gain is imperative, has played center in high school he's also been allowed to display his face-up game and perimeter shooting skills which has evolved into another one of his strengths.

Second-year assistant coach David Patrick has taken the lead role in Epps' recruiting, and together with Head Coach Johnny Jones, the Tigers are in contention to keep one their own at home.

"I really love LSU," Epps said."I feel like I can trust Coach Patrick and Coach Jones. Their style of play really fits me. It's a style I'm already used to."


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